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Synthetic alternatives to bow hair ?


Victor Roman

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I feel like a perfect replacement synthetic bow hair would be relatively easy to figure out if I were in a lab developing synthetics and was paid for a few years to refine it.  I also feel like the amount of money available for someone to spend time in a lab working on a project like that is about zero.  If a perfect replacement ever arrives, I would expect it to come from Germany.  Germans are so good at chemistry and plastic.

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49 minutes ago, iNeedAnswers said:

Knowing German research in both the public and the privat sector quite well, I would be surprised if someone funds this here. 

I doubt anywhere on earth would fund it, except maybe a Chinese company, but from what I have seen, Chinese chemical and materials science is nowhere close to German.  Maybe some retired German Chemist will do it someday.

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Or...some organization could breed an animal/horse specifically for it's hair...for bows...and whatever else horse hair is used for.

It's totally doable. And if it's done properly, there's no need to kill the animals either.

Think sheep.

For example, our miniatures have incredibly long and dense tails and manes.  Tails would have to be managed (braided or bagged to minimize breakage), but that's not hard, just relatively labour intensive.

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On 4/16/2024 at 7:40 PM, Rue said:

Or...some organization could breed an animal/horse specifically for it's hair...for bows...and whatever else horse hair is used for.

It's totally doable. And if it's done properly, there's no need to kill the animals either.

Think sheep.

For example, our miniatures have incredibly long and dense tails and manes.  Tails would have to be managed (braided or bagged to minimize breakage), but that's not hard, just relatively labour intensive.

Are you being serious ? What's  going to pay for the upkeep of the horses ? Couple of bow hair hanks ? 

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57 minutes ago, Deo Lawson said:

I tried synthetic hair and hated it. Horse hair is a plentiful byproduct of raising horses, so there isn't any need for an alternative as far as I can tell.

Actually, in almost all cases, horsehair for bows is a plentiful byproduct of slaughtering horses. I say "almost all" as I'm sure someone out there trims Wilbur's tail to use on their bow... and some commercial bow making companies (one particular one comes to mind) claim the hair comes from tail pulling.  :)

 

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7 hours ago, Victor Roman said:

Are you being serious ? What's  going to pay for the upkeep of the horses ? Couple of bow hair hanks ? 

Am I being serious? Whatcha asking?

Am I serious in that a breed could be developed? Yes. Don't think it would be all that hard.

Am I serious in thinking someone is going to jump on the idea, spend a fortune developing a viable breed...for $200 worth of commercial bowhair? Hmm...

As to who is going to pay for the upkeep of thousands of horses, I imagine that would be the owners of the livestock operations.

What do you think? Er, you are thinking...right?

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

The raising implies the slaughter...

Of course it does. Horsehair is currently a by-product.

Whether or not you could keep slaughter out of the process entirely, probably not, however it likely is possible to reduce the number of animals being slaughtered.

And, of course, the cost of the bow hair will increase accordingly.

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5 hours ago, Rue said:

Am I being serious? Whatcha asking?

Am I serious in that a breed could be developed? Yes. Don't think it would be all that hard.

Am I serious in thinking someone is going to jump on the idea, spend a fortune developing a viable breed...for $200 worth of commercial bowhair? Hmm...

As to who is going to pay for the upkeep of thousands of horses, I imagine that would be the owners of the livestock operations.

What do you think? Er, you are thinking...right?

 

 

 

But you did not say "a breed could be developed". You said "some organization could breed an animal/horse specifically for it's hair".  I don't know how many bows can be re-haired from one tail, I suspect not that many. Just googled it and found "it takes approximately 5 horse tails to come up with enough quality hair for one bow". The hair grows at around 15 days/cm i.e. it would take some 1200 days ( almost FOUR years )  to grow ONE FIFTH of the hair needed for one bow. And I did not say "WHO is going to pay for the upkeep of thousands of horses", I said "WHAT". The owners will have to derive some commercial benefit from the horse hair and I can't see how that will square with keeping five horses for four years. Food, shelter, vet and all.. Now, of course the horse might also supply meat, hide and glue, but we weren't focusing on those and I do not think those will suffice either. Sheep on the other hand supply wool, meat, skin and milk used by everybody. 

I think breeding horses for hair is not economically feasible and yes, I am thinking. At least, I believe I do. Hopefully, you will set me straight if I am wrong.

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May I ask how reliable this source is? It seems awfully low amounts of hair for me. I am not saying it's wrong, I honestly have no idea, but that would mean that of a whole tail only about a square mm of the cross section could be used. Seems to me, that bow hair is too cheap for that. 

To put this into perspective, every single orchestra would need about 250 slaughtered horses per year, all of a rather specific race. Is the horse meat industry really that big, that this is a mear byproduct?

 

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I have also vaguely wondered where all these horses tails come from.  I find it hard to believe that so much horse meat is consumed, who is eating it?  Is it common dish in Mongolia and that region?

 

ETA: I googled it myself.  4.3 million horses eaten yearly in central Asia.  I guess that is enough for bows.

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35 minutes ago, Aston4 said:

I have also vaguely wondered where all these horses tails come from.  I find it hard to believe that so much horse meat is consumed, who is eating it?  Is it common dish in Mongolia and that region?

 

ETA: I googled it myself.  4.3 million horses eaten yearly in central Asia.  I guess that is enough for bows.

Horses are delicious.  I can't vouch for it but a catering supplier told me the best European salami is half horse, half chicken. One horse, one chicken. 

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Even with the 4.3 million horses. Let's assume a fith is mongolian, which is probably too high, as they are slow growing horses and therefore not ideal for the food industry. That leaves hair for about 200 000 rehairs, if all those hairs would get sorted, which I again wouldnt think. Imagine the amount of bows sold from China each year alone. 
When it comes to European Salami: The idea of salami is, that it is processed the way you cannot identify the meat and its quality anymore. For example female wild boar that is in their "Brunft" (sorry, I lack the English terms here) is put in there for that reason. However, there is really no common ground on which meat is the best for salami in Europe. That's a highly controversial topic here, horse meat is very very uncommon in central Europe though. 

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